It was probably Ray Bradbury, and perhaps Kurt Vennogut either came up with the same idea, or echoed him, but someone famous advised that to be successful “You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down” (Bradbury) or “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down” (Vonnegut).


Those sounds of sawing, hammering and muffled cursing are me, frantically building wings. One of life’s lessons is that they don’t sell flat-pack wings at Ikea, nor can you pick up a ready-to-fly pair at Wilkinsons.

These reflections were inspired by my standing in a poky dungeon-like shop beneath Scarborough Market Hall, surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of contemporary miniatures, realising the enormity of the task I have set myself. A Bank Holiday weekend wasn’t the time to be carrying out detailed fieldwork, so, overwhelmed, I fled back into the holiday crowds, pouncing instead on a single specimen in a nearby charity shop – a fine example of frolicking frogs (0.99p).

frogs_1June is almost here, heralding the start of my crazy summer. My to-do list is frankly horrifying, but I’ll deal with that with the benefit of hindsight – it’s easier than setting unrealistic expectations for both myself and my supervisors (to whom, apologies, but I’m not going to be able to make our next scheduled meeting because I’m going to be presenting to my first-ever international conference, abroad, in foreign parts, to an audience of strangers, many of whom will speak languages other than English…terrifying)!

I’m not going to attempt to fix my wings yet (the glue isn’t quite dry), nor fly too close to the sun, but if I manage to flap hard enough I am going to have plenty of adventures to write about. Which brings me to another quote, this time from Benjamin Franklin:

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”